Cleveland Heights City Council meeting highlights 9-21-2015
SEPTEMBER 21, 2015
- Public comments
- Finance award
- Water negotiations
- Noble Road resurfacing
- Outdoor lighting energy review
- Tower Road fence
- Architectural Board of Review
- Mayor’s comments on income tax issue
- Next meeting
Council member Melissa Yasinow was absent.
Water department: Deborah Van Kleef, speaking for Heights Citizens for Safe Affordable Water, thanked the city manager and staff for their work and response to citizen concerns about the water department. Citing lower water rates and costs, she favored a change from the master meter system to direct service from the Cleveland Water Department, rather than the alternate proposal with Energy Service Group (ESG). She claimed that under the latter proposal, rates would go up and a loan would be necessary in order to join. Two other Cleveland Heights residents and a resident of University Heights also spoke in favor of direct service from the Cleveland Water Department.
Tree lawn trees: Edgar Mitchell of Goodnor Road said that he had been cited to level a sidewalk thrown up by a tree lawn tree and feels the city should take care of this as the city planted the tree. He was referred to Alex Mannarino, public works director.
Taxes, traffic flow: Another resident urged prompt repair of waterlines to avoid erosion and sinkholes, and also voiced concern that raising the city’s income tax would make it even more difficult to attract people and businesses to fill vacant properties. He also encouraged improving traffic flow. The city manager noted traffic signalization grants that are helping the city improve traffic flow.
Director of Finance Tom Raguz received an Auditor of State Award with Distinction. This is the second consecutive year Raguz has earned this award.
Council authorized negotiations with the City of Cleveland for transitioning from a master meter city to a direct service city, and tabled a resolution authorizing negotiations with Energy Systems Group (ESG). As a master meter city, Cleveland Heights buys water from the City of Cleveland and then sells it to Cleveland Heights customers. As a direct service city, occupants would purchase water directly from the City of Cleveland. Council Member Jason Stein pointed out that Cleveland’s suburban water main improvement program would give the city access to funding and an advantageous rate structure (no increase in 2016 and rate decreases in 2017 and 2024). Three council members, Jason Stein, Kahlil Seren and Mary Dunbar, expressed their preference for the direct service proposal with Cleveland over the ESG option. Mayor Dennis Wilcox noted that negotiations would clarify details concerning cost, service, and infrastructure. Also, there will be more public engagement as the process moves along. The last Cleveland proposal was much improved and almost every city in the area is working with Cleveland.
Noble Road resurfacing
Council authorized an agreement with Cuyahoga County to resurface Noble Road from the Cleveland Heights north corporation line to Mayfield Road. As a capital improvement project, all design construction and construction supervision costs will come from outside the city budget. The county will pay all engineering and planning costs.
Outdoor lighting energy review
Council authorized an agreement with Evergreen Cooperatives to conduct an energy efficiency review and to propose implementation of any recommendations. The review will include outdoor lighting in parking lots at city hall, the community center, and city parking facilities. Energy cost savings due to transitioning from incandescent to LED lights will help pay for the transition. Also, Evergreen Cooperative creates jobs in economically challenged communities.
Tower Road fence
Council amended a prior agreement with the owner of 3510 Fairmount Blvd. to permit the addition of an ornamental metal fence, no taller than three feet, along an additional portion of Tower Road to discourage foot traffic across the property owner’s private property and to create a safer exit out of the existing driveway.
Architectural Board of Review
Council made changes in the Architectural Board of Review to increase efficiency, clarify some procedures, reflect changes in state law, alter membership qualifications, and add enforcement mechanisms.
Mayor’s comments on income tax issue
Mayor Dennis Wilcox reminded residents of Issue 53, the 0.25 percent income tax rate increase that will be on the November ballot, pointing out it is strictly necessary to make up for the decrease in state funds flowing back to the city.
LWV Observer: Blanche Valancy.
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